Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.
The World Health Organisation urged countries hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks to “wake up” to the realities on the ground instead of bickering about them, and to “take control”.
“People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists in Geneva, insisting that “It is never too late in an epidemic to take control”.
Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.
Some countries are experiencing a resurgence in infections, leading authorities to partially reinstate lockdowns, in what experts say could be a recurring pattern into 2021.
The United States reported more than 55,400 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, a new daily global record as infections rose in a majority of states. Several US governors halted plans to reopen their state economies in the face of a surge in cases. Almost a quarter of the known global deaths have occurred in the United States – more than 129,000.
Latin America, where Brazil has about 1.5 million cases, makes up 23 per cent of the global total of people infected. India has become the new epicentre in Asia, rising to 625,000 cases.
Asia and the Middle East have around 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
In some countries with limited testing capabilities, case numbers reflect a small proportion of total infections. Roughly half of people reported to have been infected are known to have recovered.
Worldwide, there have been more than 520,000 fatalities linked to the disease so far, roughly the same as the number of influenza deaths reported annually.
The first death linked to the new coronavirus was reported on January 10 in Wuhan in China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe, then the United States, and later Russia.
The pandemic has now entered a new phase, with India and Brazil battling outbreaks of over 10,000 cases a day, putting a major strain on resources.
Countries including China, New Zealand and Australia have experienced new outbreaks in the past month, despite largely quashing local transmission.